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List of anti-inflammatory vegetables

Artichokes have long been used to counter inflammatory disorders of the digestive system. They contain an arsenal of anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds including quercetin, rutin and anthocyanins.

Asparagus contains a whole host of anti-inflammatory ingredients. These include saponins, such as asparanin A, sarsasapogenin, protodioscin, and diosgenin and other phytonutrients such as quercetin, rutin, kaempferol and isorhamnetin, which are flavonoids. Whilst many of these compounds are found in other fruit and vegetables it is the combination of them in asparagus that is unique. Like most green vegetables it is also rich in anti-oxidants including vitamins C and E and selenium, which help lessen the cell damage that can lead to chronic conditions such as autoimmune diseases.

Most highly pigmented vegetables provide an abundance of anti-inflammatory compounds and beetroot is no exception. Beetroot’s vibrant purple colour comes from its unique type of pigments called betailains, which include betanin, isobetanin, and vulgaxanthin. These pigments inhibit the activity of COX-1 and COX-2 the molecules within the body’s cells that trigger inflammation similarly to NSAIDs. Beetroot contains another compound that can help again inflammation, betaine, which has been linked to lower levels of inflammatory markers in the blood.

Bok Choy
Bok Choy provides a number of anti-inflammatory ingredients. Anthocyanins (flavonoids which provide plants with colour and flavour) help to reduce inflammation in the cardiovascular system and can help ward off cancer. There is also omega-3 which helps reduce inflammation in many autoimmune diseases and other chronic conditions. The anti-oxidant thiocyanate has been shown to reduce inflammation in the lungs and airways, and Indole-3-carbinal reduces inflammation in cells that can lead to cancer. And finally, there is vitamin K, which can inhibit pro-inflammatory markers in the blood, thereby reducing inflammation in chronic illnesses

Butternut squash
Squashes’ anti-inflammatory benefits are from cucurbitacins, compounds that can give it a bitter taste but also provide anti-oxidant properties. Cucurbitacins work by inhibiting the proteins that activate the inflammatory pathways. They also contain the anti-inflammatory staple Omega-3 along with high concentrations of dietary fibre.

Carrots contain beta-cryptoxanthin, a carotenoid that has been shown to be an effective anti-inflammatory against rheumatoid arthritis. They also contain high levels of anti-oxidants including beta-carotene and vitamins C, B, D, E and K and are rich in dietary fibre. Whilst we are all familiar with the orange carrot it is its ancestor, the purple carrot, which is said to contain higher levels of anti-inflammatory ingredients.

Celery can help to alleviate inflammation of the joints, which is good news for sufferers of arthritis and gout. It’s also high in fibre and for those seeking to lose weight, it is thought to use up more calories in its digestion that it contains.

Courgettes contain vitamins C and A, antioxidants which protect cells against free radical damage.

(Cruciferous vegetables) Broccoli, Green Cabbage, Spring Greens, Brussel Sprouts, Cauliflower, Curly Kale and Spinach
The vegetables of the cabbage family have long been regarded as a staple for general good health. When it comes to supporting anti-inflammatory health they are amongst very best. They contain high levels of the flavonol, kaempferol, which can protect against chronic-inflammation by reducing the body’s inflammatory response to allergies. Another key ingredient is sulforaphane, which has been linked to reducing inflammation of the brain. Isothiocyanates are the compounds in cruciferous vegetables that help to destroy cancer cells, and they also inhibit the production of NF-kappaB, a protein active in the bodies inflammatory pathways. Spinach contains a host of phtyochemicals that can provide anti-inflammatory benefits and as well as being beneficial to the cardiovascular system and bone strength. The most concentrated anti-inflammatories are the carotenoids neoxanthin and violxanthan which help control inflammation of the digestive system.

Like its close relative the carrot, fennel’s anti-inflammatory properties deride from its ability to inhibit the activity of the NF kappaB protein in the inflammatory pathway. The key phytochemcial responsible is anethole. Fennel which has a variety of cullinery uses from soups to roast vegetables can also be made into a tea which is thought to provide relief from IBS, irritable bowel syndrome.

Garlic, Onions and Leeks
Onions and garlic have long been associated with warding off colds and flu, and other heath benefits for the heart and circulatory system, which come from the ingredient allicin. They are also rich in sulphur, in the form of the molecule Onionin-A, which provides anti-inflammatory properties by inhibiting the production of white blood cells formed as a results of the inflammatory pathways being triggered.

Kelp is a large seaweed plant that is rich in a whole host of essential vitamins, A, B1, B2, C, D and E and minerals including zinc, iodine, magnesium, iron, potassium, copper. Of interest to vegans will be the fact that it is also very calcium rich. The key anti-inflammatory ingredient is fucoidan, which can reduce inflammation in joints and surrounding tissues.

Mushrooms contain high levels of bioactive compounds such as polysaccharides, proteoglucans, terpenoids, phenolic compounds, sterols, and lectins which provide health benefits including reducing inflammation. The anti-inflammatory effect varies from one mushroom variety to another. Those that are considered most potent are Oyster, Shiitake and Enoki. (1) (1) D Gunawardena et al. (2013) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24262531

Red cabbage
Red cabbage is almost twice as rich in phytonutrients as green cabbage. For example, it contains more than five times as much vitamin C. The deep red pigmentation comes from the presence anthocyanins, which are a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory.

Sweet potato
Sweet potatoes are a much healthier alternative to white potatoes. They contain over 1000 times more vitamin A, more vitamin C and more dietary fibre, and are less calorific. Sweet potatoes’ anti-inflammatory properties stem from their high concentrations of beta-carotene, alpha-tocopherol and vitamin C. Another plus point of sweet potatoes over white potatoes is that they are not members of the nightshade group of plants, which can cause sensitivities in some people.

The winter vegetable turnip doesn’t only make a great alternative to a pumpkin at Halloween it also provides nearly as much anti-inflammatory benefit. Its two main anti-inflammatory ingredients are the Omega-3 fatty acid ALA and vitamin K.

Watercress is a highly nutritious relative of the cabbage, being abundant in a host of vitamins such a A,C and K and minerals such as calcium, iron and phosphorous. Its anti-inflammatory action comes from its high levels of vitamin C and its effectiveness as an oxidant in preventing cell damage. A 2014 study highlighted at the suggested that watercress could be effective in reducing inflammation in the lungs and skin as as being beneficial in treating other conditions such as water rertention, bronchial congestion and indigiestion. (1)
(1) Moliaei S. et al, The anti-inflammatory Effectof of Watercress Extract on RBCs in Female Rates, (2014), Bangkok, International Conference on Food, Biological and Medical Sciences